Saturday, 16 May 2015

How to dramatically increase the chances of someone going to church

I recently ran an evangelism course that was a very enjoyable experience because it was with a church that had never done anything like that before. Meeting people who were enthusiastic as well as watching their confidence grow really excited me. I am a qualified teacher and really enjoy it very much. However, training people to witness and invite people to church tops this by a very long way.

Part of the course is practical and involves inviting people to an event. In this particular case it was for my testimony, “A Fall From The Top”. On the testimony evening the church was filled with new faces and the faithful members witnessed people commit their lives to Jesus while the Holy Spirit impacted lives in very powerful and demonstrative ways. Glory to God!

I have said many times before, that we are not all called to be evangelists, but we are all commanded to be witnesses. For some, this element of their Christian walk, it becomes a huge challenge of confidence. Added to that, some believers can also lack confidence as a result of past witnessing or invitational experiences that didn’t go well.

Key point: When someone rejects an invitation. They are not rejecting you personally, but they are simply rejecting the invitation.

The truth is that most people simply don’t like being rejected. When it happens, people can take it very personally and as a result procrastinate about doing it again. The trouble with this is the more that a person puts something off; the more difficult it becomes to do it. Sometimes, and I will use a couple of metaphors like, “When they grasp the nettle” or “Bite the bullet” and attempt to witness or invite someone to church they can do so nervously. A further rejection at this point can make it even harder to do again in the future. 

The important point to remember is that when someone rejects an invitation. They are not rejecting you personally, but they are simply rejecting the invitation.

As a sales person that was taught to cold call and prospect for appointments I was taught to love the word “No”. Because through effort and persistence, the “No’s” would turn into the word “Yes”.

I often quote a scripture when I run courses that many find very challenging, especially when I ask the students to define one word. First of all let’s consider the verse.

"Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. Luke 14: 23

The word that I focus on is to compel. I ask people to explain what it means and I always get some good answers, like push, or pull or drive. When I give the dictionary definition it gets quite a reaction. The descriptive words are to force or oblige (someone) to do something, to coerce into, pressurize into, pressure, impel, drive, press or to urge. The Vines biblical dictionary describes the word as to constrain.

I think that Jesus knew what he was talking about when He said that.

Well, how do we compel someone to come to church without making them feel forced or pressured? What could we do that would make people feel more comfortable about attending a church service or outreach event?

First off all, we need to consider how the person you are inviting may be feeling when you invite them. For many people today church is alien to them. Other than for a wedding, Christening or a funeral they would not normally set foot inside a church.

The other consideration is the often stereotypical view that people have of church services. People may think the church is full of old people, or boring, or that the place is full of people who are miserable. Another thing that Christians often forget is that some people are afraid of being converted.

There is a proven way that you can invite a person to church that will dramatically increase the chances of them actually saying “Yes”.

Recently a survey was taken in the USA regarding inviting people to come to church. These are the findings:

  • 80% (Four out of five)of people who were invited said they would be willing to go along
  • If the person was left to their own devices only 14% (Roughly one in ten) of the 80% actually went along
  • However, if the person who was doing the inviting, made arrangements and to meet to person before the service so that they could physically go into the church together, 79% of the 80% (Approximately seven out of ten actually attended).

The evidence then is overwhelming. Arranging to pick up, meet somewhere or even waiting for them to arrive outside of the church makes a significant difference.

Someone took me to church for the first time. That day my life completely changed. By making the extra effort to go the extra mile, by making people feel more relaxed and comfortable before arriving chuch or outreach event will pay dividends.

Meeting people before coming to church is MAD. In other words it makes a difference!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes

Scripture tells us that we are to “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” Colossians 4: 5. Therefore we need to consider carefully how we approach people with the Gospel. After all, we don’t want to alienate people so that they avoid us like the plague every time we are in their vicinity.

As the old saying goes, it is good sometimes to “Put ourselves in someone else’s shoes”. This genuinely can be a great help if we want to improve the way in which we share the most important message with those who need to hear it.

We need the wisdom that God provides so we can witness as Christ commanded us to, by making the most of every opportunity that presents itself to us.  God chooses to use you and me; we are carriers of the Gospel. What an honour this is! Let’s not forget that the Holy Spirit will always help us as we glorify Christ and make an effort to build God’s kingdom.

“Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.Proverbs 4: 7

“If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him.” James 1: 5

We therefore need to pray, asking the Lord to help us and to provide us with wisdom so that we can be more effective at sharing the good news.

Key Point: Ask God for wisdom. He gives to everyone liberally.

Below are just a couple of points worth considering as we endeavour to witness:

When you witness:-

·        Do you come across as a stereotypical Christian? Some people perceive that they are unable to relate to believers in Christ. Often thinking that are often judging, hypocritical and completely blinkered in their views and opinions.

·        Do you use Christian terminology that people may not have heard before?  Unfamiliar terms can sound like a foreign language. Be considerate of this and explain if necessary to avoid any misunderstandings.

I heard a story about a pastor of a church who was trying to reach a group of bikers with the Gospel. Over a period of time he carefully nurtured a relationship with them and managed to organise a meal at a restaurant. While they were eating, a member of the pastor’s church was also dining there and went over to tell him about a recent men’s event that he’d attended.  The man used phrases like “Praise The Lord”, “Glory to God” and “Hallelujah” as he enthusiastically described the occasion and concluded with, “After the meeting we had a great time of fellowship with the brothers!”

The pastor was aware of the bikers’ confused expressions as they listened. It made no sense to them and the church goer could have been speaking Chinese as far as they were concerned!

What would make you feel awkward if you were not a believer and someone shared their faith?

We should always be mindful of this issue. Some Christians are very excitable or speak very loudly as they share.
I have known some Christians who have tried to loudly witness to someone in front of work colleagues. All this accomplished was to make everyone present feel awkward and embarrassed resulting people avoiding the Christian from then onwards.
As a young Christian I wanted everyone to know about Jesus. I literally couldn’t help myself at times. One hot sunny afternoon, I was visiting a friend who was an unbeliever. The lounge windows of his house were wide open to allow what  little breeze there was outside into the room.

He lived on estate where the houses had been built close together. After a brief chat, lunch was brought to us and as it was placed on the table I loudly started to say grace. My friend stopped me saying “Moray, please!” He was appalled by what I said because he was afraid his neighbours would hear. I learned an important lesson. As a boss of mine said many years ago, “Moray, always engage your brain before speaking!”
It is important though, that we still rely on divine promptings because sometimes the Holy Spirit will inspire us to speak. In my experience, when this is the case, it has always been at the right time. God’s timing is always perfect.
It helps to learn from each other’s experiences. I would greatly appreciate your comments on what would make you feel awkward as an unbeliever, when someone shared their faith with you.